JC writes………I had intended to post something about the sorts of tunes that I might play at the next Simply Thrilled evening until I came across a wonderful piece of writing from Hugh Haggerty, one of the real driving forces behind the club. I told him that I intended to steal it and repost it….it’s his reflections on Teenage Fanclub, written in appreciation of them perform three entirely different sets on consecutive nights in Glasgow, drawing solely on the material from the years they were on Creation Records.
“Every day I look in a different face”
Don’t we all? Looking in the mirror it reflects back all the new creases that my face seems to have picked up overnight, and I see the aggressive campaign that the grey in my hair is waging against the brown. (Spoiler: The grey hair is winning) I have to sigh and accept that I’m getting older, a fact that’s made all the more solid with the thought that popped into my head about the three nights of sheer guitar pop bliss I’m about to attend at the legendary Barras.
My first Teenage Fanclub gig at the Barrowlands was nearly thirty years ago.
Ten seems cheeky, twenty seems statesman like but thirty? That’s a lifetime. Could I ever have imagined as an awkward, skinny eighteen year old who babbled a lot of gibberish that I’d be right back at the same place but this time an awkward, fat forty-five year old babbling exactly the same gibberish but with the seasoned tone of man with aggressive grey hair.
Why have I come back? Well that’s obvious, Teenage Fanclub have been a hugely rewarding band to grow up with. The melodies have never left them, from those shambolic riffs and scattershot drums of ‘A Catholic Education’ to the pastoral multi-layered joy that is ‘Here’ and the constant beauty of all those glorious albums in-between, it’s a soundtrack for the musically eloquent who still have a sense of humour and dress well.
Since that freezing cold night in December 1991 (Why did Gerry want to assassinate December anyway, does he hate Christmas?) I’ve had the fortune to have met people that would become impossibly precious to me and I see some under the star strewn turquoise and cream ceiling each night. I shall spare their blushes and not name them but it doesn’t go without saying that each night of the band’s residency is made all the more special because of them.
Needless to say the gigs are an utter delight with so many highlights and here’s some of mine.
Brendan’s Back! I have a feeling of sorrow for those poor people who climbed aboard after Mr. O’Hare left the band, his Keith Moonesque tub-battery notwithstanding the high jinks and banter was solid gold entertainment. Never a dull moment with Brendan and it was no different for these gigs. My favourite moment being him walking onstage shrouded in a red cape only to drop it to shake the maracas for the intro to Sparky’s Dream. With perfect timing both musically and comedically.
‘Thirteen’ The album they were lambasted for getting it’s day in the sun. So much of this album has aged beautifully. Of course ‘Radio’ and ‘Norman 3’ still light the room up but ‘Fear of Flying’ (Given even more depth due to recent events), ‘Escher’, ‘Ret Liv Dead’ and the dreamy ‘Gene Clark’ all sounded magnificent. Extra credit for the always superb ‘Tears Are Cool’ and the utter joy of hearing ‘Get Funky’ live.
Norman and Raymond’s harmonies on ‘Say No’. A song that was merely ok in the past seems to come completely to life when live and the two voices lift it to a higher plain.
Gerry. Nuff said really, the man was born cool.
Paul Quinn’s drum THUNDER! I always thought Quinny’s (As the crowd were chanting) drums were really efficient and tight but watching the man up close I realise when he hits a drum they feel it in Australia! The recordings don’t do the man justice, he really batters those tubs and his fills are raptor-like. Hats off to the drummer man.
Norman being the most charming bastard ever made. Effervescent and smiling throughout, he gives the impression of a man who loves his job. And as such you can’t help feeling warm and fuzzy too.
Raymond being a guitar hero. Again having the fortune to watch the man at work up close pulls into focus how much he’s doing at any one time. From scuzzy guitar freak-outs to squealing solos the man does it without breaking a sweat. A total professional. (The solo during ‘I Need Direction’ is like a robust hug from a dear friend you’ve not seen in years)
Francis’ backing vocals. Tucked away at the back sat behind a keyboard with no spotlight Francis joins his voice with the three songwriters at the front and it’s alchemy, never showy but crystal clear harmonising. Wonderful and ridiculously multi-talented. Playing everything from drums to guitar, keyboards and even setting up the metronome for ‘If I Never See You Again’ He even stopped it at the right time, what a guy.
Speaking of multi-talented what about Dave McGowan? With effortless grace he plays bloody everything whilst showing Brendan which button to press to make the whooshing noise on ‘Take The Long Way round’
The B-sides set. Every one of them belters! Two favourite moments were hearing ‘Long Hair’ which catapulted me back to being the aforementioned awkward teen but the stand out moment must be ‘Broken’ in which a hushed choir of perfectly formed voices sang ‘Your heart has been broken again, it’s broken’ over and over, even after the song finished. Shimmering and frankly stunning, it was a moment of beauty that could only come from the combination of Teenage Fanclub, their fans and Glasgow’s most beloved venue.
The sheer joy that this band give is one of the reasons we do Simply Thrilled. I walked away from the gigs right beside my brother in arms Robert and we were both deeply affected by the music and the way it was embraced. We want to capture a little of that magic, those voices, and many more, we want to light up people’s faces when their favourite Scottish song suddenly bursts from the speakers. We love this music, so should you.
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – December
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Tears Are Cool
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Say No
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Start Again
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Long Hair
Tickets are available from here.